December in Montreal: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Montreal skyline in winter

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Montreal is one of Canada's largest cities and serves as one of Quebec's cultural hubs. However, because of its position on the Hochelaga Archipelago, the city experiences long, frigid winters, trademarked by intense cold and heavy snow.

Despite this, the city can be a fun and romantic place to celebrate the season, provided you stay sufficiently warm! Montreal is particularly beautiful in December as the city lights up for the Christmas holidays and visitors can enjoy light shows, window displays, ice skating, and great shopping.

Montreal Weather in December

Montreal's humid-continental climate means that the city experiences cold winters and warm summers. Temperatures during this month average just 22 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius). Additionally, the temperature in December never exceeds freezing for 19 days out of the month.

  • Average high: 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 16 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius)

While January and February in Montreal are the snowiest months, December sees its fair share of powder too. Montreal usually receives around 23 inches of snow, with a layer of 10 inches of snow on the ground by the month's end and blizzards, which can bring large amounts of snow, aren't uncommon. Visitors can expect rain about eight days out of the month during December.

What to Pack

Montreal has cold, snowy winters and the sub-zero temperatures can feel colder because of the wind chill factor. But, temperatures are not necessarily unpleasant if you're prepared. Visitors to Montreal in December should be ready for a variety of temperatures by packing clothing that can be layered. Warm weather at this time of the year is uncommon, but it could happen.

If you are not accustomed to a northern climate, make sure you're prepared for the extreme cold, ice, and snow you may encounter in Montreal in December. Proper winter wear is a must and layers are key. In addition to keeping your body warm and insulated, layers allow flexibility depending on the climate you're in. For example, this is useful if you'll be indoors and outdoors throughout the day.

December Events in Montreal

The city is aglow with Christmas lights, and there are holiday festivities to attend every day in December. Montreal's cold weather is countered by an event-packed holiday season.

  • Joyeux Décembre!: In December, Mont-Royal Avenue is alive with holiday festivities, including light displays and music.
  • Saint Joseph’s Oratory: The basilica always has special events planned throughout December.
  • Santa Clause Parade: An event for all ages, this parade is a tradition in Montreal and marks the start of the holiday season.

December Travel Tips

  • December 25 is a statutory holiday where pretty much everything is closed.
  • Boxing Day on December 26 is also a statutory holiday in Montreal and all of Quebec for most everyone except those in the retail industry. On this day, stores typically offer the biggest sales of the year.
  • Montreal has an extensive underground path network that allows covered access to shops, restaurants, metro stops, and major attractions. This comes in handy during the city's colder months.
  • Within an hour or two of Montreal, you can find some of the best ski resorts that eastern Canada has to offer, like Mont Tremblant. If you are willing to head out of town, these Montreal day trips are an excellent way to round out your December visit to the Montreal area.
  • It takes about three hours to drive to Quebec City, the capital of the province, but it's worth the trip if you want to squeeze in another Canadian city.
  • If you plan to stay put in Montreal, then there are a number of outdoor ice skating rinks, including one at the former Olympic Village and the Bonsecours Basin near Old Montreal.